The Great Sandhills of southwestern Saskatchewan are a strange, unique and beautiful part of the provincial landscape that are just as vulnerable as the rest.
Perhaps due to that unique beauty, they can be considered even more at risk, because once they are gone, there will be nothing like them left. That's why when SaskEnergy made a $50,000 contribution to conservation efforts in the region, the effect feels more impactful.
Matthew Braun, manager of conservation science and planning with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), understands the lay of the land when it comes to conservation and the implementation of money into planning and infrastructure for protected areas and species.
"We spend a fair amount of time and effort working with partners and land managers and other resource managers from the areas that we work in," elaborated Braun. "We talk to them, then we get a good sense of what's going on in that area."
After figuring out how the local area is managing on its own, they can better identify areas that need help and conservation. They work to help protect against and limit the effects of human interference, like land development for farming or urban settings.
"We're going to be doing public engagement programs and working with other resource managers to stop the spread of invasive species," detailed Braun. "As well as help develop wildlife corridors and work on some native habitat restoration."
They also work with the indigenous peoples of the areas they are working in, to help maintain their cultural and historical connection with the land and its natural resources.
"Another key component, I think, is to improve indigenous people's access to cultural resources of that area," offered Braun. "[It is a] vital and important part of a number of First Nations culture and part of their identity as well."
An example of one of the rare species that will be protected better with the increase in funds to the area is Ord's Kangaroo Rat. A small, night fairing critter that prefers loose, sandy soils. It is the only known member of its species in Canada.
But not everything is preserved by keeping modern practices at bay. A big component in the area and the surrounding grasslands is maintaining grazing land for cattle on those native grass slopes.
"It's a compatible feature of wildlife and biodiversity conservation," pointed out Braun. "Because the grasslands, including in the Sandhills area, evolved and adapted with heavy livestock [i.e wild bison] grazing over thousands of years and so the good grazing management of those lands is an important part of that conservation as well."
All of these things are made simpler through donations from generous parties like SaskEnergy. If you would like to help make a difference with conservation in Saskatchewan, you can visit their website and look at their options for donating as well as volunteer work in various regions across Saskatchewan.